CEO Update

The industry’s work continues outside of Westminster frenzy

25 January 2019 #CEO Update

Brexit remains a critical issue – and we’re continuing to stress the catastrophic impact a disorderly exit would have on our sector with all stakeholders, notably this week with an All-Party Parliamentary Motor Group breakfast. But the industry isn’t standing still while all sides seek their scenario as to how the UK should leave the European Union.

The global new car market is under pressure – the USA is holding steady, but China’s new car market is down for the first time since 1990 and Europe is starting to feel the strain with a downward momentum in registrations across the continent since September.

UK Automotive is formed of international brands that make and sell into a worldwide market made up of over 160 countries, so we’re exposed to the force of world trends, and the sector is undoubtedly facing global headwinds.

Of course, one way to help offset those challenges is with a buoyant UK market, and that needs a long-term view to ensure stability and success. We have been talking to HM Treasury this week about the impact of proposed changes to VED following the introduction of WLTP. On the current trajectory, the negative impact of this tougher test on official CO2 figures will bring in a considerable windfall for the Exchequer. We believe the changes should be fiscally neutral for motorists; indeed, VED should be the key mechanism to encourage the take-up of the most efficient vehicle in every class. That is the best way to counter rising fleet average CO2 levels.

Fundamental to those laudable environmental ambitions is the introduction of electrified vehicles – pure EV and plug-in hybrids. Both have a role to play in reducing CO2 but both need widespread charging infrastructure to reassure consumers they will not be stranded and, indeed, can maximise emission-free driving. SMMT has its EV Working Group, which met recently, bringing together key stakeholders and we participate in the DfT-instigated EV Infrastructure Task Force which has been challenged to identify how the UK can improve its charging infrastructure, unlocking investment by energy companies and charge providers.

The other major technological trend is the development of connected and autonomous vehicles and we are still seeking responses from members as we coordinate the industry response to the Law Commission consultation on autonomous vehicles. This consultation seeks to pave the way for the deployment of automated vehicles on UK roads, so it is vital that the industry view is communicated effectively rather than being dictated to by other relevant sectors.

If you want to understand more of the industry priorities for 2019 as well as SMMT plans for the year then please join us from 2-3pm on 31 January for a webinar during which you will be able to ask questions as to how we might better support your business. You can register here if you would like to take part.

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